The Minister of State for Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mr Clement Agba, says the Niger Delta region has more than oil to offer the country.
Agba was speaking at the opening ceremony of a high level multi sectoral meeting on the emergency of agriculture projects in diversification of Niger Delta.
The programme was organised by the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning with the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Niger Delta Affairs in collaboration with Food and Agriculture Organisations (FAO).
Agba said that the meeting was aimed at improving the livelihood of the people of Niger Delta and the country through agriculture.
“The current realities underscore the compelling need for us to pay attention to agriculture as a low hanging fruit and an alternative to oil,” he said.
Agba said that the country had enormous potential in agriculture before the discovery of oil became the main stay of the economy and major employer of labour accounting for about two-thirds of the country’s labour force.
“The Niger Delta region spans over 20,000 sq km and it has been described as the largest wetland in Africa.
“The region is endowed with loamy soil, which is suitable for the production of both food and cash crops, it falls within the tropical rain forest zone.
“The ecosystem of the area is highly diverse and supportive of numerous species of terrestrial and aquatic, flora and fauna and human life,” Agba said.
The minister said that the agricultural projects would benefit the region with production of food in appreciable abundance and the attendant creation of additional industries.
Agba said that the administration would need the support of the state and local government, private sector, domestic and foreign investors, development partners, traditional institutions and farmers’ association to succeed in repositioning the economy to the sustainable path of growth.
He also commended all the stakeholders for their constant support.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Niger Delta, Sen. Ita Enang, urged the country to look inward for food sustainability and economy diversification.
The representative of FAO, Mr Fred Kafeero, said the organisation was supporting the country to access funds for from the global environment facility.
He said it would help to promote the priority government intervention under the land use, restoration impact programmes and food systems in the Niger-Delta region.
“We focus on rural development and investment in agriculture value chains working closely with women and young people to end poverty, hunger and malnutrition,” he said.
By Nana Musa